Discussion Groups

Mailing Lists, Forums, and Hybrids

The Internet is a great place for people with similar interests to exchange ideas and information and it can be a great resource if you own an Esprit or are thinking of buying one. In addition to the content in the Esprit Fact File, you can learn a lot more becoming involved in one or more mailing lists or forums. So what's the difference between the two?
  • An Internet mailing list could be envisioned as a much slower version of an Internet chat room which uses your email software instead of a specialized program. Like the chat room, a mailing list is a service that allows messages to be broadcast to all members of its constituency simultaneously. When you sign up for a mailing list, you provide your own email address to a centralized server. In exchange, you are provided an email address for the mailing list. When you send an email to that address, the message automatically gets forwarded to everyone on the list - including a copy back to yourself. People who wish to reply to your message simply use the "Reply" feature of their email software as if they were going to reply only to you only. However, the reply also gets broadcast out to everyone else. Since everyone gets to see all the messages, they are able to follow and join in the conversation if they so choose. If people elect to just read the emails without ever participating in any discussions, this is known as "lurking". There is nothing wrong with lurking and, as in the real world, it is a great way to learn.

For some members, the number of daily emails from a mailing list can become overwhelming. A stopgap approach to this problem is the implementation of the "Digest mode". Many mailing lists allow you to sign up for a digest mode where all the emails on a given day are gathered and sent as one large email rather than many little individual ones.

An advantage of mailing lists is that they are semi-private - only members of the list get to see the messages. It is also convenient to be notified when a new message has been posted by the receipt of a new email.

One big disadvantage of mailing lists is they offer no ability to search prior topics. Messages are only stored in your email software. If you are in the habit of deleting messages after you read them, you can not search them later. Even if you do keep the messages, searching through email messages is not the most efficient way to do research and you will only be able to search through messages since you joined the list.

  • An Internet discussion forum is a service similar in spirit to the mailing list, but different in execution. A forum is a web site where all discussions on topics are recorded and visible all members. Think of it as a log book where everyone can enter their messages and everyone can read them. Discussions are divided into topics known as "threads". If you create a new topic, you are said to be starting a new thread. If you steer the topic away from the original without creating a new topic, you are said to be hijacking the thread and this is not normally a good practice.

You join a forum by going to a web site and signing up. Usually you do this by creating a user account with a unique password. From then on, you can sign on or "log on" to the forum from any web site and participate in the discussions (or lurk).

Discussion forums can be public or private or a mix of the two. Many forums have public areas where people can sign in as guests and read the messages or even post their own. The private areas conceal messages so that only registered members can view them.

One advantage of a forum is that discussions are categorized into topics so they are often easier to follow. Another is portability - you can read or post messages from almost anywhere that you have access to an Internet web browser, so need to have your email software with you.

Many forums have great search tools to allow you to track down previous topics. This can be great for researching topics should you experience a problem with your car that may have been discussed before. And unlike the mailing list, you can search through all the messages for the entire history of the forum, not just the messages since you became a member.

One disadvantage of forums is that many of their web sites are blocked by employers to prevent abuse at the workplace.

  • A Hybrid discussion group is a combination mailing list/forum. The Yahoo groups are an example of this type. As a member you have the option to have messages sent to you individually, as a digest, or to read them online on the forum pages. This approach would be the ultimate solution if it were not for Yahoo's shoddy implementation. First, yahoo is a commercial site so the pages are littered with countless annoying ads. Second, Threads are only tracked by subject name and do not allow you to easily follow a topic. Thirdly, the search tools for going through old messages are absolutely dreadful. With all its flaws, however, the Yahoo Turbo Esprit list continues to be the most popular Esprit discussion group on the Internet.

If you are an Esprit owner, contemplating ownership, or a hardcore enthusiast I strongly recommend that you become an active member in as many of these lists and forums as you can. There's much that you can learn and contribute.

Back to top of document

History of the Lotus Discussion Groups

At one point there was no support for the Esprit on the Internet. Lotus enthusiast Alan Perry came to the rescue and created a mailing list called the Lotus Mailing List. The concept was simple: you send an email to a server with your name and email address. Once you did this you became a "subscriber" to the list. You could then send an email to a specific address and every other subscriber gets a copy of the mail. It's kind of like a non-real-time version of the chat rooms you see on AOL and other places.

As time went by, membership in the Lotus List grew to many hundreds. This was both good and bad. Since Lotus makes several models, it became a nuisance for some list members to sift through hundreds of non Esprit-related emails to find emails that were of interest to them. On the plus side, those who were open-minded enough or had the time to read the emails about other cars got the benefits of the knowledge and experience of a much larger audience. 

Back to top of document

OneList and Yahoo's Turbo Esprit List

Several years later, Bryan Boyle decided to take the challenge to create an "Esprit Only" email list called the TurboEsprit Onelist. He used a list server called Onelist (later bought by Yahoo) which has the advantage of being much faster than the original Lotus List. Messages posted to the turboesprit list are sent to all members in a matter of seconds as opposed to minutes or sometimes hours in the original list. Membership has now grown to several hundred members and it has become a wonderful community for the interchange of thoughts and ideas. 

To join the original list, go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/turboesprit. From here, click on the "subscribe" button and follow the directions to become a subscriber and participate in all our discussions.

Back to top of document

The UK Esprit List is born

As the total number of subscribers to the Turbo Esprit list increased, members from the UK decided that they wanted their own group to discuss activities that were relevant only to them. Thus, the UK Lotus Esprit Yahoo group was born. Part of the reason for the fragmentation of the group was that the number of emails being sent was overwhelming to some. Ironically, the UK Esprit list grew to the point where they had more daily message posts than the original Turbo Esprit list. Keep in mind that here is no restriction to joining both lists, so I recommend you join both lists.

To join the UK Lotus Esprit list, go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/UKLotusEsprit and follow the instructions to become a subscriber.

Back to top of document

Other Esprit mailing lists sprout

Following the led of the UK group, several others have also created their own Esprit mailing lists on Yahoo. These are meant more as specialized lists and are not meant to replace membership to the main Turbo Esprit and UK Esprit lists. One of these new lists is dedicated to owners of Giugiaro Esprits (S1/S2/S3 List) and another is for members of the two main Florida groups: Florida Lotus Owners Group (FLOG) and Florida Lotus Club (FLC) to communicate about gatherings and events.

Back to top of document 

The PistonHeads Esprit Forum

For several years, the Esprit Fact File used the services of PistonHeads as the main method for discussion in a forum-based format. The group has grown and gathered support throughout the years although its membership is slanted towards UK owners. However, in the past year, PistonHeads has become a very commercial site. The same ads that many find so annoying on the web version of the Yahoo mailing lists is now starting to appear on the PistonHeads forum. In fact, advertisements are now inserted into the message threads and thread lists making it distracting for readers.

There is still a lot of great discussion on the PistonHeads list and their services for classified ads and price guides are wonderful, it's just that there is now a commercial-free alternative which offers all of the same features and more.

Back to top of document

The Lotus Esprit Forum emerges

In the words of its creator and site administrator, the new Lotus Esprit Forum (LEF) was started due to sites such as PH and (especially) Yahoo being out of local control and full of banners, adverts and poor search engines. The LEF is well laid out and has many nice features.

I encourage you to sign up and explore the new Lotus Esprit Forum. This forum promises to become the leading site for Esprit-related, forum-based discussion on the web and is the site we recommend. You can access the LEF at any time by:

  • clicking "Forum" from the chapter menu above;
  • clicking on "Lotus Esprit Forum" on the menu to your left;
  • or you can go to it now by clicking here.

Back to top of document

Proper netiquette for posting a message to the mailing lists and forums

It has always been good netiquette, when responding to a message, to edit down the original message until only minimum relevant portions remain. There is no reason to quote an entire 3, 5, or 10 page original message when you're only going to add four or five lines, particularly for the benefit of those people who receive this list as a digest and have to look at every page to find the start of the next message.

Please, once you've composed your reply, look it over. As a rule of thumb, less than half of your message should consist of lines quoted from the message you're replying to. Obviously there are going to be times when that doesn't work, but most of the time you can set the right context by including only a paragraph or so. Cut away extra headers and signatures that contribute nothing new to the discussion.

When participating on a forum, try not to hijack a thread. If you wish to talk about something else other than the original topic, start a new thread. This improves the search capabilities of the forum and also helps limit the amount of superfluous fluff that contributes nothing to the subjects.

Most forums are organized so the threads with the most recent messages are near the top. If you post a question and other message topics push your thread down the list to where it is no longer visible, it might be possible that your thread will get ignored and you won't get the answers that you need. If this happens to you, you can put a reply to your own message with the word "bump" to indicate that you are bumping the message back to the top of the list. While this is an acceptable practice in many forums, please do not abuse it. No one likes to see the thread hog who keeps bumping his thread to the top of the list.

If the topic is important enough that it should stay near the top of the list for a longer time, you can ask the forum moderator if they would consider making the thread "sticky". Sticky threads stay at the top of the list regardless of anyone posting to them or not. It is up to the moderator to determine whether a thread is worthy of being made sticky.

Back to top of document

The forum doesn't remember me

After you sign up for some of the forums, you have the option at login to have the forum "remember" you so that you don't have to log in every time. This is accomplished by storing a cookie on your computer so that upon your return to the forum, they know who you are. If you find that, after visiting another page on the Esprit Fact File, you are required to log in again before you can post on your favorite forum, it is most likely due to the configuration of your web browser. Make sure that you go into your browser options and enable cookies for the forums or you will encounter this problem.

Back to top of document

How to unsubscribe from the Yahoo Lists

Some people sign up for the TurboEsprit Mailing list and then become overwhelmed with the volume of email they receive. You can expect to get approximately 50 to 100 mail messages per day. If this becomes a problem, you might first consider switching to the digest mode. In digest mode, you will only get one email per day. To do this, go to the Yahoo Groups web site, at www.yahoogroups.com/groups/turboesprit, and select the User Center link from the menu bar on the left. This menu will let you change your subscription between digest and normal mode.

If you decide you that this is still too much for you, you may unsubscribe from the list. Instructions on where to go to do this are included at the footer of every text message sent to you by the list. Essentially you send a message to turboesprit-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com and the system will ask you to reply to a confirmation message.

Note that the UK Esprit list and Florida Lotus Club yahoo lists have the same features and capabilities.

Back to top of document